OBJECTIONS ON FRENCH BILL RISE FROM EP
By Selcuk Gultasli, Brussels

Zaman, Turkey
May 11 2006

Reactions against the bill that would criminalize denial of the
so-called Armenian genocide have begun to emerge from the European
Parliament (EP) members, too.

EP members of different political groups speaking to Zaman criticized
the French motion.

Graham Watson, leader of the Liberal Democrats which is the EP's
third largest political group, termed the draft as "a wrong decision
opposed to freedoms."

Watson stressed that the proposal is both a wrong and
freedom-restricting step.

Freedom of thought and expression is the basic value of Europe,
Watson said. "These freedoms must not be restricted."

The best way, according to the EP's Liberal Group leader, to unveil
the realities regarding the Armenian genocide is to set up a commission
of Turkish and Armenian historians. Watson reminded this proposal was
brought to the agenda by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Another Liberal Democrat in the EP, Andrew Duff, said the draft is
not just "very ugly," but it is also an attack against freedom of
expression. "Those supporting the motion have a clear target: To
damage Turkey."

Co-Chairman of the European Union-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Commission
Joost Lagendijk pointed out those responsible for the preparation
of the motion fail to appreciate the value of the free discussion
atmosphere that started in Turkey. "It is necessary to encourage
discussion," Lagendijk said, "but if the bill becomes law, it will
definitely be misused by reform opponents in Turkey."

European Parliamentary member for the Greens, Turkish-origin
Cem Ozdemir, finding the French attitude "no different from the
chauvinistic nationalists in Turkey," said those who oppose Turkey's
accession to the European Union are behind the motion. "If France wants
to heal the wounds of Armenians, let it support Turkey's membership
to EU. If the bill passes, it will give an advantage to those who do
not want the Armenian problem solved."

Turkish-born EP deputy Emine Bozkurt, who thinks the motion is
"a real hypocrisy" asked, "The EU is making efforts for freedom of
expression in Turkey on one hand, and France brings this motion to
the agenda on the other. How will this contradiction be explained to
the Turkish people?"